Things heated up quickly Thursday night in Cleveland.
When things settled down, both Donovan Mitchell and Dillon Brooks were ejected after brawling in the second half of the Cavaliers’ 128-113 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Midway through the third quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Brooks had a blocked layup on the rim and was slammed to the floor. As he spun, his hand came up and struck Mitchell in the groin. This prompted an immediate reaction from Mitchell, who had caught the blocked ball behind Brooks.
Mitchell immediately threw the ball to Brooks in retaliation. This sparked a significant brawl below the rim. Coaches and officials eventually got involved and eventually separated the players.
Brooks was even seen at one point tackling one of his own trainers to the ground, even as that trainer appeared to be trying to stop the fight.
After a lengthy review, Brooks was hit by a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected. Mitchell was also ejected for his role in the altercation.
Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff defended Mitchell after the game, calling what Brooks made a “cheap shot in multiple ways.”
“If somebody does a play like that, you have the right to defend yourself … We don’t have kids who start shit, but we have kids who don’t run away from shit,” Bickerstaff said, via Blocked Evan Dammarell of the Cavs.
Mitchell also didn’t back down after the match.
“That’s just what he is. We’ve seen that a lot in this league with him,” Mitchell said. “He and I have had our personal battles for years. Frankly, I’ve been kicking his ass for years … There’s no place for that in the game. You have to protect yourself at the end of the day.”
Mitchell finished the night with six points after shooting 2-of-11 from the field. Brooks had nine points and two rebounds for Memphis.
Cleveland, after seeing its double-digit halftime lead cut to just one point in the third quarter, held an 81–76 lead when the fight broke out. The Cavaliers then closed out the fourth with a long 11-2 run, which immediately put them back in control of the game. From there they moved on to win by 15 points.
Darius Garland had 32 points and 11 assists to lead the Cavaliers to victory. Cedi Osman added 21 points off the bench and Jarrett Allen finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Ja Morant closed just short of a triple-double for Memphis. He had 24 points with eight rebounds and eight assists. Desmond Bane also added 25 points after shooting 6-of-7 from behind the arc. The loss marked the Grizzlies seventh in their last eight games.
“That’s bullshit if I’m being honest with you,” Mitchell Brooks said. “To be honest with you, that’s complete bullshit. When you start doing cheap stuff like that, it’s not like that.”